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The XC40 Recharge is the best of Volvo’s past and the brightest from Volvo’s future, the company says

The 2022 Volvo XC40 Recharge small SUV.

The 2022 Volvo XC40 Recharge is sold in two trim levels of Plus and Ultimate with permanent all-wheel drive. Pricing starts at $56,395. (Volvo Cars photos)

Table of Contents

Overview
Pricing
Rebates and Incentives
Electric Power
Performance
Charging
Safety Features
Interior Function
Back Seats and Cargo
The Good, the Bad, and the Awkward
Why Buy the Volvo XC40 Recharge?
Specifications

BY MARK MAYNARD

To look at the Volvo XC40 Recharge, you might not see a 402-horsepower all-wheel-drive electric SUV. But at 4.7 seconds to 60 mph, it is a new-age muscle car with Swedish politeness. The XC40 Recharge is quicker to 60 than most of its EV colleagues — and even a few gasoline-powered muscle cars.

Volvo says the XC40 Recharge will accelerate from 0-60 mph in 4.7 seconds.

But with quickness comes compromise. Despite Volvo’s posted driving range of 233 miles, the XC40’s two 201-hp electric motors suck the juice at a concerning rate. Along the way, however, the XC40 Recharge is a real charmer — at a price.

Welcome to Volvoland. Things here are not always as they seem.

Interior design is minimalist.

XC40 Recharge Overview

The XC40 Recharge is Volvo’s first battery-electric vehicle. It debuted in 2020 as “the future of Volvo Cars,” and it is the company’s most decisive step to date on its drive toward being “climate neutral” by 2040.

“Rather than just building and selling premium cars, we will provide our customers with the freedom to move in a personal, sustainable and safe way,” Volvo Car Group CEO Håkan Samuelsson said in the press kit.

Volvo C40 Recharge EV

The Volvo C40 Recharge.

Joining Volvo’s campaign to all-out electrification is the just-released 2022 C40 Recharge. It is a sport-roof variant of the XC40 and has a one-trim-level comprehensive starting price of $59,845. Its battery powertrain and driving range are the same as the XC40 Recharge.

Driver area of the XC40

Headroom is surprisingly accommodating for tall drivers.

Swedish Unique

Volvo’s XC40 began life as a 2019 model with a turbocharged four-cylinder gas-powered engine. When I tested that version, its interior gave the impression of an electric vehicle — lean and open with reconfigured space. Most obvious was the open door-panel storage. The audio speakers were moved from the lower door panels to create voluminous storage space.

The XC40 Recharge slips into those same shoes, with its own innovations. My first excursion behind the wheel was an awakening. There is no ignition button. The driver’s weight on the seat starts the car. Just buckle up and go. To turn off the car, just step out and lock the door.

And there is no physical parking brake. It engages automatically when parked and releases on driveaway.

This utterly new procedure seemed odd and more of a gimmick than an enhancement. But after a few days’ experience, it seemed a smart bypass to get me on the move a few seconds quicker.

Volvo design applies some of the more thoughtful features in a vehicle. One example is the little wastebasket in the front center armrest console. It is so much classier than wadding up papers and stuffing them into a cup holder, or door panel. And then there are the jacket hooks built onto the B-pillars, or the folding hook on the glove compartment door to hold take-out bags.

Volvo claims to be the first major automaker to bring Google Services into the car, which Volvo says is a paradigm shift in the way people interact with their vehicles. It is a suite of Google Maps, Google Voice, Google Assistant, and Google Play Store.

XC40 Panoramic roof

The panoramic moonroof is a standard feature.

XC40 Recharge Pricing

The XC40 Recharge is sold in two trim levels of Plus and Ultimate with permanent all-wheel drive. The Plus starts at $56,395, including the $1,095 freight charge from Ghent, Belgium. The Ultimate, today’s tester, is a $2,850 package. Included with the MSRP are 250kW of DC Fast Charging and a year’s subscription to discounted energy with Electrify America.

Both models are luxury class in standard equipment and include such features as keyless entry with push-button ignition, Nubuck and fabric upholstery, heated front seats, front seat cushion extenders, high-performance audio system with Bluetooth phone and audio, smartphone charging, and a laminated panoramic moonroof.

Features in the Ultimate package include keyless entry and keyless drive; a heat pump for cabin heating (rather than electric heating); 360-degree surround-view camera; Harmon Kardon audio system; removable and folding cargo floor; a power tailgate; power front passenger seat; headlight pressure washing and heated washer nozzles; Pilot Assist driver-assistance system; adaptive cruise control; heated rear seats; and 20-inch black-diamond cut alloy wheels

The new-vehicle warranty covers 4 years or 50,000 miles with roadside assistance. And there is free factory scheduled maintenance and wear coverage for the first 4 years or 40,000 miles. Among the wear items are brake rotors and brake pads (as needed), and, front and rear wiper blades.

Charging cable storage in the front trunk.

Charging cable storage in the front trunk.

Rebates and Incentives

Easing some sticker shock of the XC40 Recharge is a still-available $7,500 federal tax credit. And there also might be regional rebates, such as the Clean Fuel Reward of $750, presented by the California Air Resources Board.

Also available for low- and moderate-income residents in San Diego County is the MAAC Electric Vehicle Access Program (Metropolitan Area Advisory Committee). Interested buyers can apply for incentives and rebates of up to $11,000 to lower the purchase price of pre-owned and new EVs, including plug-in hybrids.

In addition, a $1,000 point-of-sale rebate is available from San Diego Gas & Electric to teachers and first responders in San Diego County.

XC40 Recharge Electric Power

Powered by two 201 horsepower electric motors, the XC40 Recharge has a total system output of 402 horsepower. And the robust 486 foot-pounds of torque are instantly available. As with most all-wheel-drive electric vehicles, one motor powers the front wheels, and the other drives the rear. The motors, controller, and battery are liquid-cooled.

The 78 kWh lithium battery pack, of which 75 kWh is usable, is EPA-rated for a driving range of 223 miles. But that range is when the battery is charged to 100 percent, which Volvo does not recommend. To prolong battery life, Volvo recommends charging to 90 percent, which translates to a driving range of around 190 miles. But that range will vary with the terrain or driver enthusiasm.

Comprised of 78 modules of 12 cells each in three parallel stacks, lithium battery pack is integrated into the floor and what was the exhaust-AWD tube). The modules are individually repairable, Volvo says. And the battery pack is protected by an extruded aluminum safety cage.

Volvo XC40 Recharge driveline.

A second view of the skateboard battery showing the seats.

What Is a Heat Pump?

The entry-level Volvo XC40 Recharge has an electric cabin heater, but the Ultimate model gets a heat pump. The difference might be a bit more range with the heat pump, which does not draw electrical power from the battery pack.

EVs don’t produce much heat and require special heating systems. Heat pumps prevent excess heat created by an EV’s battery and drivetrain from going to waste. They absorb the excess heat generated by the EV‘s battery and drivetrain to improve the car‘s efficiency, range, and driving experience.

The heat pump functions somewhat like an air conditioner in reverse. This means that the EV doesn’t need to use its battery to power a traditional resistive or electric heater, to warm the cabin. The heat pump helps maintain optimal battery temperature, and thereby real-world range.

Unfortunately, whatever energy conservation is provided by the heat pump, its savings are not reflected in EPA testing.

XC40 Recharge Fuel Economy

For electric vehicles, the EPA includes a miles-per-gallon equivalent or MPGe. The XC40 Recharge is rated for 85 MPGe combined, 92 MPGe city, and 79 MPGe highway. That compares to the gas-powered, front-wheel drive XC40 at 26 mpg combined, 23 city, and 32 mpg highway on the recommended regular fuel. The XC40 AWD has ratings of 25/22/30 mpg, on the recommended premium fuel.

XC40 Recharge Performance

The quickness of the XC40 Recharge is easy to control with the so-called one-pedal driving. The electronic function integrates regenerative braking and electric motors. Just by lifting the gas pedal, the driver can slow the car to a stop without using the brake pedal. It can even hold the car on an incline.

Or, the system can be switched off for traditional driving. In this mode, there is greater benefit from the car’s rolling kinetic energy when driving at higher speeds on a highway, Volvo says. And this setting allows the “creep” function, as when the car starts to roll forward when the brake pedal is released.

The AWD setup of the XC40 Recharge is rear-wheel biased. During acceleration, more torque goes to the rear for traction. And when decelerating, the front wheels recapture more energy.

LED lighting with Thor’s Hammer detail

LED lighting with Thor’s Hammer detail.

XC40 Recharge Ride and Handling

With a minimum curb weight of 4,741 pounds, the XC40 Recharge feels heavy on takeoff but lightens as it gets rolling. From about 30 mph, torque is the driver’s friend. Mash the pedal to impress friends with the potent acceleration. And the quickness is sharp at 50-70 mph on the highway when defending your space.

The XC40 Recharge is not sporty to drive, but it is comfortably sprung. It can be a clunky ride, too. Managing the curb weight of a short (174.1 inches) and tall (65 inches) vehicle challenges the suspension of front MacPherson struts and a multi-link rear. And it has a lot of highway noise in the cabin.

The electric steering has adjustable steering weight, but the standard “firm” setting felt light to me. But the car’s rather long wheelbase of 106.4 inches and the Ultimate’s 20-inch tires created a wide turning circle, which Volvo says is 37.4 ft with 19-inch tires.

Four-wheel-disc brakes of 13.6-inch front rotors and 13.4-inch rotors rear are large for a small SUV but necessary to ensure braking force for the 2,000-pound tow capacity.

XC40 tire and wheel

The Ultimate package adds 20-inch Pirelli Scorpion Zero tires.

Charging the XC40 Recharge

Volvo’s XC40 Recharge uses the CCS charging standard, which consists of a combined AC and DC inlet port. The top portion of the inlet is for the Type 2 connector for charging at home or public stations.

Both sockets are used when using rapid DC charging from a CCS connector.

The XC40 Recharge has an 11 kW onboard charger that can be used with a standard household 110-volt outlet. Charging on 110 is slow, like filling a swimming pool through a drinking straw. Newer homes with 220-volt circuits can provide about 4 to 8 miles of range per hour.

An 11kW AC wall box or public charging point will provide about 31-37 miles of range per hour.

A DC fast-charging station will provide between 19 and 62 miles of range in 10 minutes, depending on wattage. Charging from zero to 80 percent at a 150kW DC fast charging station will take approximately 40 minutes, Volvo says. But those are not easy to find.

Public Charging

I charged at two 50kW public charging stations, Blink (Level 2) and EV Go.

The Blink charger, which is swipe-a-credit-card easy, gave a 4 percent charge in 47 minutes for a cost of $3.54. A day later I visited an EV Go fast charger, which boosted the battery reserve from 83 percent to 90 percent in 11 minutes for a cost of $6.77. But the EV Go chargers, six of them in a parking garage, were filthy and the hoses were gritty and grimy.

That poor upkeep would be motivation for me to buy a home charger. A ChargePoint Home Flex charger starts at about $700, not including installation. The 240-volt charger is nine times faster than a normal wall outlet, Volvo says.

A U.S. federal tax credit might be available, too, which covers 30 percent of the costs of a home charger and installation (up to $1,000). Check to see if you can combine this credit with other incentives in your area. Learn more here.

Charge port on the XC40

The XC40 Recharge has a combined charging socket for AC and DC.

XC40 Recharge Safety Features

Standard XC40 safety features and technologies include seven air bags, low- and high-speed collision mitigation (which detects vehicles and pedestrians/cyclists), automatic braking after a collision, run-off-road protection and run-off-road mitigation, lane-departure warning and lane-keeping assist.

And when electronic updates are required, the XC40 Recharge can receive over-the-air updates. As with smartphone OS updates, the user can schedule the update or let it occur automatically.

The XC40 Recharge is also the first Volvo model equipped with the new Advanced Driver Assistance Systems sensor platform. The system combines cameras, radar, and ultrasonic sensors. And those software systems can be updated for future autonomous-driving technologies.

XC40 Recharge Interior Function

Volvo does good design engineering to make a subcompact cabin feel larger than it is — at least for those in the front seats.

Cabin design is a minimalist presentation. Most cabin controls are accessed on the large, vertical touchscreen, or steering wheel controls. Frequently used climate controls settings are conveniently accessed on a strip just below the touchscreen. And there are separate audio volume and tuning knobs.

Opening and closing the pano roof is by a touch-sensitive switch.

The leather-free Nubuck upholstery looks like leather and is supple and attractive. Interior plastics are generally pleasing in appearance and their graining, but not completely for a $60,000 car.

Front headroom of 37.6 inches with the panoramic roof is somehow surprisingly accommodating for taller drivers. And the seats, with seat-bottom tilt, provide all-day support for butt and thighs, with a seat-cushion extender on the Ultimate.

Sightlines are open over the hood and fenders, but less so over the shoulder with the upswept rear door skins. Saving the day for parking visibility is the 360-degree camera in the Ultimate, which helps navigate tight spaces, and it includes a curb view.

Cargo space in the XC40

Square cargo space of 20.4 cubic feet. (Mark Maynard photo)

XC40 Recharge Back Seat and Cargo

The back seats are where the XC40 Recharge feels subcompact. Rear headroom is good at 38.3 inches, but legroom of 36.1 inches is cramped with a tall driver in the front seat. The seat bottoms are very short (to help legroom).

The center tunnel for battery storage takes from the precious three-across foot room. And shoulder room is impacted by the bench that is inset a few inches from the doors. That’s a benefit for side-impact protection, but the whole back seat area feels downsized.

Conveniences include a fold-down center armrest and charging USBs.

Cargo space is flip-and-fold functional with the folding back seat and folding cargo floor, which is useful to corral grocery bags. Fold the seatback for almost 5 feet of length, with 29.4 inches floor to headliner.

Fold the back seat for about 5 feet of length.

The Good, the Bad, and the Awkward

There is still much resistance to those uninitiated to the intangible pleasures of driving a battery-electric vehicle. Among the big impediments are the driving range that is less than in a gas-powered vehicle and battery manufacturing that is bad for the environment.

“I couldn’t live with less than 300 miles,” a businesswoman said to me when asking about the XC40 Recharge. And she followed up with: “And EV batteries are so bad for the environment.”

All vehicle manufacturing creates emissions and waste. But it is less invasive for electrics, which concentrate the effects of pollution in a central location, which aids in clean up. And the energy is not being trucked to a network of fuel stations.

In the manufacturing process, electric vehicles will produce more global warming emissions than the average gasoline vehicle, because electric cars’ large lithium-ion batteries require a lot of materials and energy to build. (For example, manufacturing a midsized electric car with an 84-mile range, results in 15 percent more emissions.)

However, once the vehicles get on the road, it’s a whole different energy story, according to EarthJustice.org.

Reducing Greenhouse Gases

Electric vehicles make up for their higher manufacturing emissions within, at most, 18 months of driving — and continue to outperform gasoline cars until the end of their lives

An electric car on average has the same greenhouse-gas emissions as a car getting 88 miles per gallon. And that is far greater than the average new gasoline-powered car (31 mpg) or truck (21 mpg), according to analysis by the Union of Concerned Scientists.

And there are major concerns with sourcing the minerals. Mining is a destructive industry, long responsible for human rights abuses and environmental devastation, according to EarthWorks.org.  And lithium, cobalt, and nickel are key elements used to make the lithium-ion batteries for use in electric vehicles,

Battery Recycling

End-of-life battery recycling is limited but gaining attention. Ford Motor Co. and Volvo Cars are the first automakers to directly support a program to recycle EV batteries.

The automakers are working with Nevada-based Redwood Materials. The company recycles batteries, electronics, and other end-of-life products “with environmentally sound processing and refining technologies to produce key elements for circular supply chains,” according to its website.

According to the release, the program will begin in California and will accept all lithium-ion and nickel-metal hydride batteries in the state.

Why Buy the Volvo XC40 Recharge?

Driving range becomes very manageable because your vehicle can always be topped off at home. Power companies offer reduced rates for off-peak charging. And a driver who has solar panels at home will reap additional savings.

The XC40 Recharge is very convincing to go electric. But the buyer would have to be very committed to Volvo to buy or lease a $60,000 small SUV.

In time, sitting on 15 gallons of flammable gasoline will seem ludicrous.

A rear view of the Volvo XC40 Recharge small SUV

Welcome to Volvoland.

Volvo XC40 Recharge Twin Ultimate Specifications

Body style: compact, 5-seat, 5-door battery-electric AWD SUV crossover

Motors: Two water-cooled 150kW permanent magnet synchronic electric motors; 402 total horsepower; each motor is fed by one of two 500A inverters, to convert DC current from the battery to AC current for the motor; 486 lb.-ft. torque from 0 to 4,350 rpm

Battery: 78kWh (or 75kWh usable) lithium-ion (liquid-cooled)

Transmission: 1-speed automatic

0-60 mph: 4.7 seconds; 112 mph top speed

Driving range: up to 223 miles at 100 percent charge; or about 200 miles on the recommended 90 percent charge to help preserve battery life

Charging times

DC 50-150kW: 40 minutes, to 80 percent

Household plug: 34 hours

Home 240-volt: 7-10 hours

BY THE NUMBERS

Max trailer weight: 2,000 pounds

Cargo space: 16-31.5 cubic feet

Front trunk space: 1 cubic foot

Front head/leg room: 37.6/40.9 inches

Rear head/leg room: 38.3/36.1 inches

Length/wheelbase: 174.1/106.4 inches

Curb weight: 4,741 lbs.

Turning circle: 37.4 ft.

FEATURES

Standard equipment includes: keyless entry with push-button ignition, Nubuck textile upholstery, heated front seats, front seat cushion extenders, high-performance audio system with Bluetooth phone and audio, rear park assist camera, charcoal headliner, inductive smartphone charging, laminated panoramic moonroof with power sunshade, 12-inch driver gauge display (w/2 appearance modes), 9-inch center infotainment display, 360-degree camera system, LED exterior lighting, 4-year subscription to Google Automotive Services, Google Maps, and Google Play, tinted side and rear glass

Ultimate equipment: heat pump for cabin heating, 360-degree surround-view camera, Harmon Kardon premium audio system removable and folding cargo load floor, keyless entry and keyless drive, power tailgate, Homelink controls, front and rear park assist, power passenger seat, headlight pressure washing and heated washer nozzles, Pilot Assist driver-assistance system, adaptive cruise control, heated rear seats, 20-inch black-diamond cut alloy wheels

Safety features include: 7 air bags, low- and high-speed collision mitigation (detects vehicles and pedestrian/cyclists), automatic braking after collision, run-off-road protection and run-off-road mitigation, lane departure warning, lane-keeping assist, road-sign information,

PRICING

Base price: $59,245, including $1,095 freight charge; price as tested $60,090

Options on test vehicle: Thunder Grey metallic paint $695; heated steering wheel $150

Where assembled: Ghent, Belgium

Warranty: 4-years/50,000-miles bumper to bumper with roadside assistance; free factory scheduled maintenance and wear coverage for the first 4 years or 40,000 miles; 8-years/100,000-miles limited drive battery coverage (or 10-years/150,000-miles in California)